Editorial by Roi Simpson (As heard on “the Lunchtime News Wrap” 16 August 2019)
16 August 2019 marks the 7th anniversary of the Marikana massacre.
But our focus is on Caledon. Firstly, because there’s a concerning link between the two thoughts.
The community of Caledon is still waiting for answers about the killing of 2 protestors – allegedly by police – more than four months ago.
On 4 April this year, Tebogo Matselebane (26), and Jason Windvogel – just 18 years old – were shot dead during a service delivery protest by residents of an informal settlement in Riemvasmaak.
Almost immediately, community members pointed to either the police or armed private security as the ones who pulled the trigger.
So, the police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, was brought in to investigate whether police were responsible.
Today is the 91st working day since the killings – and IPID is saying its waiting on the Department of Health and others to provide information.
And that’s deeply concerning.
You may think our interest lies in the deaths, and the issue of police using deadly force.
And, of course, in the beginning, it was.
But the true story of Marikana is not that over a hundred people were shot with live ammunition (34 of whom died of their wounds), and it’s not even the apparent assassinations – smoothed away a little by the term “extrajudicial killings” – that happened.
The true challenge to democracy was what happened afterwards.
As the Mail and Guardian reported in 2015, the Commission of Inquiry into the incident – led by Ian Farlam – reported a “prima facie” case that both national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, and North West provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, approved a series of lies be submitted to the commission as the “truthful” version of event.
Together with oral testimony that amounted to perjury by several SAPS members, we have evidence that the scene was tampered with by police – placing machetes next to dead bodies, unaware that photos already existed to show the miners in question weren’t armed, and there were denials that records of meetings existed, which a subpoena of data drives proved to be a lie.
So the police cannot be expected to police themselves.
And this is why we have a separate organisation – an independent investigative force to look into police action.
And I’m afraid that the slow pace of the investigation into the deaths in Caledon is calling that status into question.
Just to be very clear: I am not accusing IPID of helping to perpetrate a cover-up in Caledon.
I have no evidence to support that – and it may well be that a lack of resources, rather than a lack of political will, is the problem.
But what has to be said is that the optics are not good, and lend unnecessary credibility to such accusations.
To the people of Caledon, we can say that our newsroom won’t let go of the story –
we’ll make sure we get answers on both the findings – and the delay in making them.
PIC: Tafelberg Publishers